CAPE TOWN – Highlands Park produced a composed performance in their 2-0 win over Bloemfontein Celtic in an Absa Premiership match at the Makhulong Stadium, Tembisa, on Saturday afternoon.
Namibian Peter Shalulile scored a goal in each half and that ensured that Highlands pocketed the three match points on offer. The result also meant that Highlands avenged their first-round defeat at the hands of Celtic.
Bloemfontein Celtic made all the play with a slick inter-passing game in the opening 10 minutes. However, they were closed down near the fringes of the opposition penalty area where they opted for speculative shots from range, none of which were on target.
Highlands absorbed the early pressure and kept their structures. They staged two counter-attacks when opportunities beckoned in the first 15 minutes and managed two shots on target during this time.
As it turned out, a counter-attack provided Highlands with a platform to score the opening goal. They defended a 19th-minute Celtic corner and cleared the deck with a kick that reached the halfway line out wide on the right. From there Highlands moved the ball further upfield before Namibian Peter Shalulile ran on to a cross-kick and steered the ball past Celtic keeper Jackson Mabokgwane.
In the ensuing play, Celtic again enjoyed a major share of possession but rarely threatened to score.
In the run-up to the halftime break, Highlands came within a whisker of scoring but Mabokgwane saved brilliantly from a low powerful shot by Mothobi Mvala in the 38th minute.
Nine minutes into the second half Highlands went 2-0 up after shoddy defence coupled with a goalkeeping blunder by Mabokgwane cost Celtic dearly. Highlands’ Lindokuhle Mbatha had managed to round the Celtic rearguard after Mabokgwane had failed to gather a bouncing ball. The unmarked Mabokgwane rolled in a slide-rule pass which Shalulile sidefooted into the unguarded Celtic goals.
On the hour mark, Justice Chabalala rose high to head the ball from a Celtic free-kick well outside the opposition’s penalty area. His effort was held out by the crossbar and there were two more scoring attempts as Celtic marksmen pounced on rebounds, each time without success.
In the 85th Celtic came within a whisker of scoring, but Highlands’ goalmouth custodian Marlon Heugh turned the ball away for corner from a close-in free kick. After this let-off, Highlands saw off Celtic’s late attempts to score before they signed off 2-0 winners.
Meanwhile at the Peter Mokaba Stadium in Polokwane, visiting Bidvest Wits ran out 1-0 winners over Baroka.
Wits’ Namibian international Deon Kavendji scored the only goal of the match early in the second half.
Baroka’s Richard Mbulu was red-carded in injury time.
African News Agency (ANA)